|The Dream (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
With my birthday coming up tomorrow (January 30th) age is something that's on my mind. Age is something that crops up for most of us with some frequency as it is a personal bit of data that's often required when we fill out forms, medical records, surveys, and other such statistical information requests. We may not go around touting our age in public, but age is something that we likely think about most days.
When we are children we proudly tell others our ages being sure to add the "half" or the number of months if seemingly necessary. We long to be older and relish in the attention given when we have another birthday, especially when that attention comes in the form of a birthday party. The festivities that include the party activities, the cake, and the birthday gifts are something we look forward to each year.
Then somewhere along the line after we've entered adulthood those birthdays become a bit less welcomed. We know how old we are and would just as well forget it and wish everyone else would forget it as well. After all, the graying hair, wrinkles, and aches and pains that we never experienced in our former young lives are constant reminders that old age is coming upon us and there is no stopping it.
I've heard many people say that though their bodies feel older and they can't do a lot of the things they once were able to do, they don't feel any older in their minds. Mentally, in many ways, I don't feel much different than I did in my teenage or young adult years. Memories and accumulated experiences are there and perhaps I have a more conservative outlook to my thinking, but my perception of the world around me, many of the insecurities, and my interests are almost the same in a great many ways.
In other words, if I'm just going along without thinking about where I am in life, in my mind I could be at just about any age of my life. That is until I start thinking a bit more closely about who I am, what I am, and where I am in my life. Then age starts to creep though all the cracks of my thinking. I look in the mirror and see my father. Surely that isn't me--that's not what I used to look like. Not exactly like that.
And yet it is me. Years of memories flood my brain and I realize how many more lost memories may never again be recaptured. My brain is overflowing as it keeps filling with newness. That guy I see in the mirror is that child who once loved birthdays but now has seen too many of them come and go.
In my dream life things are different. There I am typically ageless. I might still be in elementary school, high school, or the university. In other dreams I am still working at some previous job. Or I might be where I am today. The dream characters around me might be from my distant past or my present and they are usually all of a same age, an ageless adult age that is neither young nor old. I don't think of myself as being any particular age either. I can run, leap, or even fly without effort, dauntless and carefree.
Perhaps the dream life is us stepping into another dimension where age is not an issue, but somehow interpreted as a generic adult who has passed childhood but remains eternally youngish. Maybe the dreams are a glimpse into heaven. Most of the characters populating my dreams are equals in age, physique, and mentality no matter who they are and what relation they have been to me in my life. If I see my father or my grandfather in a dream they are the same age as I am.
In certain dreams there might be a baby, a child, or someone very old, but those characters do not seem to appear very often--not to my recollection at least. These stand-out anomalous characters apparently act as symbols or special dream messages, but they are not the norm. They are like props in the dream drama--or maybe cameo appearances.
In my waking life I see those around me according to their ages or the ages I estimate them to be. People are categorized according to their age. I am in my age group. When I interact I might often do so without taking age into too much consideration, but if I stop to think about it I am aware. In dreams I rarely stop to think about my age or anyone's age. Age in my dreams is typically inconsequential.
Do you notice people's ages in your dreams? What age do you seem to be in your own dreams? Do you think you are actually experiencing visual images in dreams? Or do you think your mind's processing of the dream thoughts is interpreting the dream into your memory as something that you "saw" while in a subconscious state?